Age of Empires 4 is having a big stress test this weekend, so everyone who fancies it can jump in and play the strategy game, preferably in the multiplayer mode as trying to break that – or rather, hoping it all holds up – is kind of the point.
As you may be aware, the game is set to be released in just over a month – on October 28 – so the time is right to put the title through its paces with some serious online testing, it would seem.
- Here are the best graphics cards right now
- We'll show you how to build a PC
- And these are all the best PC games
If you want to partake, head to the Age of Empires 4 page on Steam (opens in new tab) where you can request access (sign up early) for the technical stress test which starts on Friday September 17 (10am PT, which is 6pm UK time), and runs through until Monday, September 20. Alternatively you can partake via the Xbox Insider Hub app.
You don’t have to have previously tested Age of Empires 4 at all to join in with this stress test, the only stipulation is that your PC must meet the minimum system requirements (opens in new tab) for the game as you might expect. When you run it, the game will automatically apply the correct graphics settings based on your hardware configuration (a feature which is still in testing, and wasn’t available previously with the beta).
Obviously this is a limited build of the game that’s being made available at the weekend, but there are a few different modes that players will be able to try out, with four different civilizations and five maps.
The tutorial is an obvious starting point (‘Mission Zero’) for newbies, and you’ll also be able to take on the AI in custom skirmish matches. What the developer really wants you to do, though, is play against other people online, of course, and to get as much data as possible from “different match-ups across various servers”. The developer adds (opens in new tab): “We’ll be focused primarily on stability, performance and matchmaking or server reports during this event.”
Analysis: Room to zoom and other important feedback-based changes
Broadly speaking, fans who’ve already been testing the game in the closed beta seem guardedly optimistic about the changes that have been made to Age of Empires 4 (which will be in place for this open stress test at the weekend).
That includes a big tweak, namely allowing the camera to zoom out to a greater level so you can see more on-screen at one time, which was something a lot of players had a problem with in terms of it being too limited previously.
That’s the single biggest change highlighted by the devs, but there have been all manner of bug fixes applied – as you might expect, across graphics, sound, and grittier bits of the engine like the game’s economy – as well as balancing on both the Chinese and English civilizations (two of the playable civs in the stress test – the other two will be the Holy Roman Empire and Abbasid Dynasty).
All in all, beta testers will hopefully be pleased with the progress made here, and they’re at least appreciative that their feedback is being acted upon. And hopefully, newcomers will be impressed by the game too – and the way it runs in multiplayer matches, which is, of course, the real point of this weekend-long testing marathon.
It’s also worth noting that the NDA is lifted with this test, in order to make signing up for it an easy process and get more folks on-board, so you’ll be able to talk about your experiences with Age of Empires 4.
Via PC Gamer (opens in new tab)